AU’s Bender Library is currently hosting the largest exhibit in its history.
The exhibit, “Traveling Mercies,” includes more than 50 photographs and artifacts from Afghanistan and Kenya, which were taken and collected by businessman and humanitarian Aldo Magazzeni during his trips to the countries.
Magazzeni, a Pennsylvania businessman and humanitarian, spent the last four years working in Afghanistan to support day-care centers and shelters for children and adults, according to the AU Library’s Web site. The United States’ 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, followed by the invasion of Iraq and shift in focus, motivated Magazzeni to go to Afghanistan to try and personally impact the situations. He helped to create training centers in women’s prisons, gave more voice and power to female victims of violence and organized the construction of rural water systems. Many of the photographs from the exhibit were taken during that time period.
Magazzeni helped in 2006 to construct a water system in Nyumbani, the self-sustaining village in Kenya, according to the library’s Web site. Father Angelo D’Agostino, a Jesuit priest helped him with the project. This village is currently home to thousands of children and elderly victims of AIDS who are portrayed in many of Magazzeni’s photographs.
Mary Schellentrager, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences who works at the library’s front desk, said she likes how the exhibit is globally conscious.
“I like how [the exhibit] is really ethnographic,” she said. “It portrays people’s lives and gives us an insight into their culture.”
Alex Hodges, director of the library’s Curriculum Materials Center, said he likes how some of the library’s spaces are being used for exhibits.
“[The exhibit] fills the space on the walls and also connects very nicely to AU’s international and global focus,” he said.
Brittany La Forge, a freshman in CAS, said she has seen some of the photos in the library and that she respects humanitarian workers.
“I think that it’s important for people to give back to the community and society, so I have a lot of respect for what Magazzeni does,” she said. “I think attending his discussion may be enlightening.”
Frank Carbone, a sophomore in the Kogod School of Business and CAS, traveled to Uganda and has seen the poverty and lifestyle in Africa. He said he believes photographs can have a powerful effect, but not nearly as powerful as seeing the lifestyle of people in a third world country from one’s own eyes.
“I don’t personally look at a lot of art or photographs, but it’s always good to hear that it’s out there,” he said. “I went to Uganda for a malaria education prevention program, and I had a first-hand experience of seeing a third-world African country. As powerful as the photos are, it doesn’t compare to the first-hand experience of poverty.”
Magazzeni will hold a discussion about the exhibit Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m. in the library.